In this magical novel, a count from Milan stumbles upon a desolate community of lost noblemen on an uncharted island off the coast of Portugal. When he discovers, to his astonishment, that their ill-treated servant is in fact a maiden iguana, and then proceeds to fall in love with her, the reader is given a fantastic tale of tragic love and delusion that ranks among the most affecting in contemporary literature.
“The reptilian servant is only the first in a series of fantastic touches that transform the narrative into a satiric fable dense with the echoes of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’ and Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis.’ . . . The Iguana is a superb performance.” — New York Times Book Review
About the author
Anna Maria Ortese was born in Rome on June 13, 1914, one of seven children, and grew up in southern Italy and in Tripoli. Her formal education ended at age thirteen. Her first book, “Angelici dolori”, was issued in 1937. In 1953 her third collection, “Il mare non bagna Napoli”, won the coveted Viareggio prize; thereafter, Ortese’s stories, novels, and journalism received many of the most distinguished Italian literary awards, including the Strega and the Fiuggi. Although she lived for many years in Naples following the Second World War, she also resided in Milan, in Rome, and for most of the last twenty years of her life in Rapallo. McPherson & Company published Ortese’s most famous novel, “The Iguana”, in English translation, as well as two volumes of selected stories under the collective title, “A Music Behind the Wall”; all are translated by Henry Martin. Anna Maria Ortese died in Rapallo on March 9, 1998.